Monday, October 06, 2003

Professional Guilds –
using the ResumeBlog™ to “Hang out your Shingle”

Linkname: hangoutshingle
This document is also at

What is SPM and how and why is it expanding?

SPM is a two-year old professional guild consisting of software, networking, and telecom marketing and business development professionals. Right now our main offerings to our members are a very targeted job posting service and an active discussion board about doing the job. Hiring managers, recruiters, and HR personnel who post to SPM repeatedly tell us that our members are highly qualified. This is quite different than less focused job boards or the sites such as which will return literally hundreds of resumes with only a very few qualified candidates. Many job posters prefer SPM because of the smaller number of submitted resumes, and the much higher match of those that do apply. Numerous quotes from satisfied job posters can be found on our homepage at

We are actively branching out and creating additional professional guilds – and not just for software professionals. The new guilds and SPM will all be part of a larger whole call ProfGuilds.

However, posted jobs are only a small part of the total jobs open. We felt very strongly that we needed a mechanism to get our members in front of the hiring manager for the unposted jobs, which could be a very large percentage of the total. And our mechanism is the ResumeBlog™.

ResumeBlogs are a way to “hang out your shingle”

White-collar professionals had a big wake-up call in this current recession particularly in the technology industry where there have been thousands of layoffs and many people are into their third year of unemployment. Companies have been evolving to be more efficient, through outsourcing, streamlining, and depending more on part-time workers. But the typical white-collar professional was still sitting in his/her cubicle, working away, oblivious to the changes. And when that professional was thrown out like unwelcome guest, s/he realized that s/he hadn't developed the skills, nor had the resources and visibility to become a "business of me". Which is today's new reality – very eloquently discussed in the book "Free Agent Nation: The Future of Working for Yourself". Small business owners, and many of the members of professions such as accounting, medical, legal, and academia have long understood that they have to make a name for themselves independent of where they are working, because what they do next will not simply be the company handing them a promotion – they have to go out and find the next project themselves.

Blogs arrived in the nick of time to help us out. Within a few minutes, any mildly computer-savvy professional can create a good-looking "ResumeBlog™ which is the equivalent of "putting out a shingle”, that is, signaling that you are ready for business, and equally important, ARE a business.

Why are blogs so uniquely suited to being the professionals’ “shingle”?

There are 5 key reasons that blogs are much superior to having a website or using a webpage consumer service.

  • First, blogs are designed to be shared. It's easy to set up a blog where multiple people can post, comment on each other’s posts, and even edit each other’s posts. This is critical in today's world where the ability to collaborate, especially virtually, can mean the difference between getting a job or not. And it allows the blog to be not just about me, me, me, but also about me as a member of the professional community, and a member of a team.

  • Second, blogs are much, much easier to create and maintain than a website. I have several (OK lots) of blogs and two websites ( and Both of my websites are hard to maintain. It is difficult to share the workload, and doing even something trivial is not easy. For example, to update my website to include this text involves starting up Dreamweaver (a complex program in itself), figuring out what page to put this information on (or create a new page or a new section), getting it into the right format using several of the 10 or so little Dreamweaver toolboxes that randomly dot the computer screen, saving the page, firing up an FTP (file transfer protocol program), going the right spot in the website to update the page, transferring the updated page, testing it (I really should have a staging server), and so on. Actually, it's not even that easy. But for me to put this into a blog is completely trivial. I just log into my blog, put this all into a new post, push the publish button, and it's done. Now the formatting of my blog won't be as nice as it could be unless I am willing to do a little bit of HTML coding, but if you look at my website you will see lots of places where I tried to do nice formatting with Dreamweaver and somehow created a mess instead. As long as you know how to do the simplest things in HTML– bold, web links, headers, email links and bulleted lists, you will be fine.

  • Third, because blogs are easy to create and maintain, there are lots more of them. And that means you are more likely to have a colleagues and information that you want to link to that make your blog more integrated with the other blogs and websites. Traversing links is the basic lifeblood of the internet – links are the fodder that fuels Google – and are what makes your blog not an island, but part of a tapestry. With appropriate links pointing to and from your blog, as people browse the internet, they are likely to come upon your blog in the right context.

  • Fourth, it's easy for software developers anywhere in the world to design add-on tools to be designed for blogs. This means that lots of clever people are out there creating great tools that can then be incorporated into your blog. For example, we use a blogroll to maintain a list of all the SPM ResumeBlog members. We embed that tool in every single member's ResumeBlog (by having them use our standard template). For instance, in my ResumeBlog at you can find links to other members’ ResumeBlogs in the right-hand column. I doesn't have to maintain that list; it is pulled in real-time when his ResumeBlog is accessed. Incredibly, by using a trademarked keyword embedded in the blogroll, and a simple Google search box available free from Google's site, we have created a keyword searchable database of all of the ResumeBloggers! And we have done this without any software engineering, any purchased database software, and any hosting service! But we haven’t sacrificed quality – we have some of the best tools in the world at our fingertips – e.g. Google is our database search engine. Instead of outsourcing we have basically done away with the whole kit and caboodle of IT. Now, certainly someone is handling these issues for us...we use combination of tools from Blogger (now part of Google), Google itself, Yahoo, Quickbase (part of Quicken), CreateSurvey and so on. You can find the list of tools and services at

    We are very pleased with having these companies as the basis for our ResumeBlogs, because these are some of the best companies in the business! We haven't compromised at all by not doing anything except the assemblage. Now, it does take quite of bit of cleverness to put these tools together in ways that make sense, and we also have to constantly stay up on what's new (and what's gone stale) and provide support. We believe members will pay a small (medium iced latte) monthly price for that service. But since our costs are nearly zero, we don't have to charge much!

  • Fifth, the 21st century is going to be more and more "self serve", a trend that began in the 20th century with the cafeteria. It's often so much easier to just do something yourself than to spend the time to explain to someone else what you want and then interact with them as they attempt to deliver the goods. Hiring managers, even at the level of the CEO, are prowling the web for the BEST person to do the job. And they are just like us; they start by going to Google and typing in a bunch of key words. Let's say you wanted to find someone with skills in social software, at a CEO level, which is now or has been an entrepreneur. Reasonable search terms are: "social software" entrepreneur ceo. You may not believe this, but I did NOT check Google before I came up with those search terms. Then I went to Google and typed in the keywords. My ResumeBlog comes up as item #7 in a list of 240 items. Why is my rating so high? Because I belong to the SPM Guild and by linking to each other (in ways that matter), Google recognizes my blog as relatively important. So, by being part of a guild, everyone gets more of a web "presence". Which makes sense. In real life an isolated worker with few or no business relationships is not going to be someone that everyone knows about.

What are some productivity statistics or share some success stories of how Blogs have been able to find work for a candidate?

We are just implementing the ResumeBlogs now, but already in the first few weeks approximately 10 (out of 125) ResumeBloggers have been contacted by a hiring manager, HR manager, or recruiter about a job. In today's market, having someone call YOU about a job is almost unheard of. If you apply for a posted position, your resume goes into a black vortex. Our beta ResumeBloggers are thrilled...several have even gone for interviews that came out of these contacts. And, as we expected, the person with the job was just plopping in keywords to Google and seeing who came up. For several of the ResumeBloggers, it wasn't their ResumeBlog that came up first, but the googler also explored the links of other ResumeBloggers and found them by traversing the links. Now, as I explained above, there are a lot of things at work here that enabled this to happen...the ResumeBlog had to exist of course, but that ResumeBlog also had to be part of a tapestry that is in essence the community of professionals in software marketing.

What is the difference between belonging to a “professional guild” and being an “employee”?

Right, it’s changing your orientation from employee at XYZ Corporation who happens to be the controller, to being a controller in the automotive industry who happens to be working at XYZ Corporation. Interestingly, there are professors at several of the top schools in the country (MIT, Stanford, UC Berkeley, etc.) that are studying the (re)emergence of professional guilds. References coming soon. Being part of guild includes networking with others in your guild (e.g. other finance people in the automotive industry, and other types of professionals automotive industry and even other industries. It’s all about developing an expertise and they aggressively seeking out rewarding opportunities to use and enhance that expertise.

What are two or three gems of advice you would give someone wants to change jobs?

  • 1) You should always be thinking about the next job. That's a cliché, but it's truer than ever. That means you should have your "shingle" out on the web (using the ResumeBlog for example) you should be participating in activities that raise your Google presence (e.g. making presentations, writing articles, etc.), and you should be working part-time with others on consulting assignment where you can develop an expertise (or where you are already an expert). Your goal is that when the person with your perfect job types in the four or five keywords for that job, your professional presence (e.g. blog) comes up very near the top of the list.

  • 2) Find a way to interact once/month with professionals outside your core competency, and even outside your industry. This will add to your “weak ties”, that is, your number of acquaintances. Professor Mark Granovetter, now at Stanford University, studied the use of social networks as professionals sought new jobs, and discovered that the acquaintances were the best source of opportunities. For more about Granovetter’s “strength of weak ties” please visit

  • 3) Develop an unusual expertise along with your must have skills. With the internet it is actually possible to fill the perfect job with the perfect person, because every professional can make him/herself findable. Again, as an example, suppose I need a finance professional who is an expert in stock option programs for venture-backed startups. I don’t want just your average Joe or Jill; I want the best there is. So into Google go the keywords:

    finance “stock option” venture

    The first 100 references show only one professional
    He’s not a finance executive, but he’s got the right experience.

Don’t you want to found too? If yes, start ResumeBlogging at